Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (DC) Wins Award

I know that break has started and everyone has scattered but in the off chance anyone checks the blog over break, The National Museum of Women in the Arts received the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom. I know its a newer museum and thought I would put it on everyone's radar for future historical women adventures.

Here's more information:
New York Times
NMWA Press Release
NMWA's Homepage

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the members of congress who have been working on the Campus Sexual Assault Bill since June, has made a statement in the wake of the online circus surrounding the Rolling Stone article and subsequent retraction about a rape of a U.Va. student, Jackie.

Here's a one-page summary of the bill:

Here's a video of Gillibrand's remarks today (she references the Rolling Stone case at 4:40 and another co-sponsor, Senator McCaskill, talks about it at the beginning):

Monday, December 8, 2014

Research on how to talk about bias

You might be interested in this piece that appeared in yesterday's New York Times, co-written by Sheryl Sandberg, that reviews recent research on effective ways to talk about bias. I found these findings to be interesting and relevant to our discussions.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Working women and freezing eggs

This article I found seems aimed at women like Sheryl Sandberg and her audience in Lean In. Funny enough, I actually know this doctor. I met her through a family friend when I was curious about going pre-med, especially in the realm of women's health, and got to talk to her a bit. What's very intriguing to me is that by the time she was able to actually practice (after undergrad, med school, residency, then more than one fellowship for her specialty in endocrinology), she was in her nearly-mid thirties, a time when women are urged to think about the ticking clock. So she then had to fit having three kids into her busy schedule of running a practice and doing publicity for women's reproductive options on local news and such. Like Sandberg wrote, women are really coming into their careers around the same time that they are told they are running out of time.

This came up in another class of mine (a Russian literature one), and my professor told me that communist Russia actually pushed for women to enter the workforce first, and thus had many women become mothers in their thirties. Nowadays, women typically have children at age 22 (why is not as clear). I would argue that the US would push back the societally constructed age for motherhood to 40 if possible, but 35 poses a biological stop sign. I mentioned (before reading this article), that if it was the norm to freeze eggs, then women would definitely wait until their forties to have children. And now look at what Facebook and Apple are paying for their employees!

It will be interesting to see how reproductive technologies change our norms as we grow older. Will egg freezing become a big thing? Who know?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Does Politics Need Gender Quotas—for Men?

I am anticipating that we will probably be talking about quotas next week, so here's an article from the Atlantic that gives a different spin on it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Maureen Dowd's Original Critique

The article we read about Lean In referred to an op-ed by Maureen Dowd...so I figured I should probably read that. I think the article we read accurately described her issues with Lean In, but I want to dig a little deeper into what the book tries to be and how it is critiqued. I think Dowd's comments are accurate and I appreciate her analysis, but I also feel like she takes the book as a type of manifesto. I don't think we can do that. I think that reading it as a memoir, as Sandberg's experiences and as Sandberg's advice to a very specific group of women is the most valuable way to read it. I'm not saying that's how we should have to read it, but I think discounting on the basis of a failed manifesto means that we avoid some of Sandberg's most influential points and best advice.

Ferguson/past indictment of a female officer

Here's the video I mentioned yesterday in class - it gives a brief summary of Ferguson, background, and why it matters (the mention of the indictment of an officer is at 2:40).

I did very minimal investigation into the case mentioned, and found this report on what happened, and this report that actually has the video from the police car dash cam of the incident.

Turns out that the indictment was because the officer didn't follow proper protocols, and the shooting resulted in an injury, not a death. Nothing of what I've read so far analyzes the issue from a gender perspective, but I'd like to look further.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Talking to young girls about gender

When I was home for Thanksgiving I recorded a talk I gave a few weeks ago to submit for a job application. Given that it is about gender representation in media and young girls as storytellers, I wanted to get one take of me actually giving the speech to a young girl. So, one evening I sat down with my eight-year-old neighbor, Malin. She has two older brothers who she fights endlessly with, loves sports (hockey is her favorite at the moment), and is exceptionally good at math. When I arrived at her house I explained to her what I was trying to do. I let her help me set up the camera, showed her how to change the white balance and let her play with the focus. When we finally sat down I told her briefly about the talk, explaining some concepts and why it was important. Then, I proceeded to give the talk just as I would to an older audience. There is a whole section of the talk about girls seeking out leadership opportunities and I explain that of all the kids who want to be president when they grow up, only 19% of them are girls. I then casually mention that there has never been a girl president. Malin stops me. "Wait, wait, wait," she says, "YOU ARE SAYING THAT THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A GIRL PRESIDENT IN THE WHOLE 100 MILLION YEAR HISTORY OF ALL OF AMERICA?!?!?!?!"

I didn't really know what to say. Nobody had ever stopped me in the middle of my talk before. I tried to explain, "Well, America hasn't been around that long... It's only been a few hundred years... I mean colonial America... Because, yeah, America itself has been around for a long time... And, yeah, no girls presidents. Ever."

The next question I was equally unprepared for: "Why?" she probed.

I responded with "That's just the way it is. But it is going to change soon."

For some reason I didn't feel comfortable explaining to her gender roles and expectations. It became clear to me that she did not see any of that yet in the world. I asked her, "Do you want to be president?"

"Of course!" she responded.

"Good," I told her.

This is why I love young girls (in the totally non-creepy way). Nobody is born into the world with a pre-conceived notion of who or how they are supposed to be. If anything, young girls are in a unique position to critique what society is telling them about who they are supposed to be. I felt guilty even telling Malin all of this because, really, I should have just been encouraging her to do and be anything she wanted instead of telling her about this legacy she had to change in order to achieve her dreams. I finished the talk and had a conversation with her about what she can do to become president one day. I asked her about all the ways she's a leader. I told her to keep developing those skills so that she CAN be president one day. Young girls now are going to grow up to be the next leaders. For some reason, I feel such and obligation to the girls in my life to teach them about the history of women who have fought for them and about how they are so important in this world. But, after this conversation with Malin I felt like I had diminished a part of her--by telling her about this history I had all of the sudden planted this idea in her head that she couldn't do it because nobody had done it before.

Having this conversation with her was a good experience for me. Next time I have the opportunity to have a conversation like this with a young girl, I think it will be important for me to not assume they feel or think a certain way and instead just listen.